Friday, March 23, 2012
Alien Ingredient #24: Kinh Giới
This is a fun herb that I have never heard of before. At first, I mistook it for Lemon Balm, an herb that we grow here at the restaurant for its wonderful lemon flavor. With its square hairy stems, this mint (Elsholtzia ciliata) differs only in very slight ways from lemon balm. Tasting it, the flavor is slightly different too. It reminds me more of lemon zest than lemon balm does. Lemon balm has a slightly more lemongrass/citronella flavor. Of all the lemon-flavored herbs, this Vietnamese Lemon Balm is the closest imitator of lemon zest. It really is quite good and I look forward to converting this to a sorbet or granita for our tasting menus this week.
Vote: An herbal dead ringer for lemon zest. Excellent!
Postscript April 14, 2012. Kinh Giới has found a place on our appetizer menu in our Shrimp, Lemon, and Vietnamese Lemon Balm Risotto. It is proving to be quite a useful herb.